THUNDER BAY – City administration is recommending a roundabout be installed at the intersection of Edward Street and Redwood Avenue.
Northwood Coun. Shelby Ch’ng is all for the plan, which she expects will be proposed during the 2021 capital budget process.
Ch’ng says over time, the roundabout will save city taxpayers money, though it will take more than 20 years to get there. According to a report being presented to city council on Monday night, the initial construction costs for a roundabout is $1 million, with a $150,000 operations and maintenance cost over a 20-year period.
The intersection is already scheduled for renewal work, including a new road base and surface, extension of the sidewalk and upgrades to street lighting included in the project. Choosing that option would cost an initial $850,000, with an expected operations and maintenance cost of $275,000 over 20 years.
Neither estimate includes the cost to replace a water main between Ward Avenue to William Street.
“If you were to look back for the original plans for this particular area, there was actually a roundabout scheduled to be put in here,” Ch’ng said. “But for some reason the powers that be at the time decided to go with lights.
“The section can hold a roundabout, in terms of spacing. I think moving forward, looking at ways to cut long-term costs is going to be something city council should take seriously and I’d be hard-pressed to not do this, considering it is long-term savings, without cutting jobs or services.”
The city has carried out traffic-signal warrant analysis four times since 2012 at the intersection. The roundabout being considered would be a partial multi-lane configuration, with two-lane entries and exits on Edward Street and single-lane entries on Redwood Avenue.
“The partial multi-lane design was selected to provide the appropriate level of service with minimal delays for motorists on all approaches. This configuration, while more complicated than a single lane roundabout, will be easier to learn than a full two-lane roundabout with two lane entries on all approaches,” the report reads.
“ In order to alleviate concerns with this being the city’s first roundabout, an extensive public education program is recommended.
Ch’ng said there would have to be an education period, adding it will take time for drivers to get used to a new way of driving in Thunder Bay.
“For the record, I’m always concerned about Thunder Bay drivers, regardless of a roundabout. However, I think that the public is constantly asking us to cut and save and now I’m asking them to be able to turn in a circle,” she said.
Over a 10-year period, starting in 2010, there have been 16 collisions recorded at the current intersection, with five non-fatal injuries reported. The report says studies show roundabouts are safer for road users and have been proven to reduce injury collisions by approximately 75 per cent, compared to traffic signals.